United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. REEVES, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
October 4, 2019, the Honorable H. Bruce Guyton, United States
Magistrate Judge, filed a 37-page Report and Recommendation
[Doc. 43], in which he recommended that Davis's motion to
suppress evidence [Doc. 27] be denied.
matter is before the Court for consideration of Davis's
objections [Doc. 49] to the Report and Recommendation. As
required by 28 U.S.C. § 36(b)(1) and Rule 72(b),
Fed.R.Civ.P., the Court has now undertaken a de novo
review of those portions of the Report and Recommendation to
which Davis objects. For the following reasons, the Court
finds Davis's objections without merit and the objections
will be overruled.
midnight on February 19, 2018, officers stopped Davis as he
was driving his white Honda Accord a few blocks from his
residence. After the officers arrested Davis for driving on a
revoked license, a drug detection dog alerted on the Honda
and Davis's silver Cadillac, which was parked on the
street nearby. Officers searched both vehicles, finding a
marijuana cigarette in the Honda and a bag of illegal drugs
in the Cadillac. In his objections, Davis challenges the stop
of the Honda, the search of the Cadillac, and the
qualifications of the drug detection team.
Davis argues the officers had no reasonable suspicion to
initiate a traffic stop. The court disagrees. The Magistrate
Judge correctly found that Officer Stonerock had reasonable
suspicion justifying the stop of the Honda. Officer Stonerock
had been dispatched to investigate the return of a stolen
white Honda. Officer Stonerock testified it was odd for an
owner to recover a stolen vehicle and return it to his home.
Officer Stonerock recognized the address as the home of
Davis, to whom was registered a white Honda that had fled a
traffic stop two weeks earlier. Officer Stonerock observed a
silver Cadillac, followed by a white Honda, abruptly turning
onto Deer Lake Drive upon seeing officers at Davis's
residence. It was reasonable for Officer Stonerock to believe
that the white Honda was the same one reported stolen and
then found by its owner. Accordingly, the court agrees that
Officer Stonerock had reasonable suspicion to stop the Honda.
the court reviews whether the duration and intrusiveness of
the stop was reasonable. It was. After stopping the Honda,
Officer Stonerock asked Davis questions about his identify,
ownership of the Honda, and about the Cadillac. Davis did not
have identification, agreed he owned the Honda, but disavowed
any connection to the Cadillac. Officer Stonerock already
knew that the Cadillac was registered to Davis. Officer
Stonerock then learned from dispatch that Davis's
driver's license was revoked. Officer Stonerock arrested
Davis for driving on a revoked license. The duration of the
stop was reasonable under the circumstances and ended with
next argues that the officers were required to obtain a
search warrant before conducting a dog sniff of the Honda and
the Cadillac. Again, the Court disagrees.
denial of ownership of the Cadillac aroused the officer's
suspicions that Davis was hiding something in relation to the
Cadillac. Based on his experience, Officer Stonerock
suspected that Davis might be hiding drugs. At this point,
Davis had been arrested; the Honda was in the lawful
possession of the Knoxville Police Department; and the
investigation into the theft of the Honda was ongoing after
Davis's arrest. Turning to the Cadillac, it was parked on
a public street; thus, there was no need for a search warrant
to conduct a dog sniff. See United States v. Place,
462 U.S. 696, 707 (1983) (holding that a dog sniff of private
property located in a public place was not a
"search" within the meaning of the Fourth
Amendment). The Magistrate Judge correctly found that the dog
sniff of the Cadillac parked on a public street was
permissible without the need for law enforcement to suspect
that the Cadillac contained drugs, and the dog sniff of the
Honda was conducted as part of the investigation of the theft
of the Honda.
Davis argues there was no objective evidence that the K9 was
reliable or well trained. The record shows otherwise.
Graves testified that he and his dog "Rudi"
completed eight weeks of training and Rudi was certified by
the National Narcotic Detector Dog Association. Deputy Graves
further testified that prior to the events on February 19,
2018, he deployed Rudi to sniff for controlled substances
approximately 60-70 times, 50 of which were on vehicles. Rudi
never alerted incorrectly on any of these deployments. The
record supports the Magistrate Judge's finding that Rudi
also argues that Rudi's "alerts" on the Honda
and the Cadillac were not captured on the video recordings
from the cruisers on the scene. However, the fact that a
video recording was not available does not discredit Officer
Graves' testimony that Rudi alerted on both vehicles.
Thus, the Magistrate Judge committed no error in finding that
Rudi was reliable and that he alerted on both the Honda and
the Cadillac, giving the officers probable cause to search
careful review of the record, the Court is in complete
agreement with the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that
Davis's motion to suppress evidence be denied.
Accordingly, the court ACCEPTS IN WHOLE the
Report and Recommendation under 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). It is
ORDERED, for the reasons stated in the
Report and Recommendation, which the ...